Saturday MLB Betting Odds, Projections: Strategy for Picking Red Sox vs. Astros, Dodgers vs. Braves (Oct. 16)

Saturday MLB Betting Odds, Projections: Strategy for Picking Red Sox vs. Astros, Dodgers vs. Braves (Oct. 16) article feature image

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brian Snitker looks on as Freddie Freeman bats.

  • The Astros are favored to grab a 2-0 lead in the ALCS, while the Dodgers are projected to take Game 1 against the Braves.
  • A couple of key matchups are tough to call, but betting analyst Sean Zerillo has a full breakdown of both.
  • Continue reading for Zerillo's picks and projections for ALCS Game 2 and NLCS Game 1.

Throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs, I will provide a daily breakdown summarizing my thoughts on futures and individual games.

I will also address betting these playoff series, whether on the series moneyline or a game-by-game basis, while using my daily MLB Model projections.

Let's talk series prices before digging into Saturday's pair of LCS matchups.

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Series Moneyline Corner

Here are my updated ML projections for the two league championship series matchups:

The Astros' pennant chances improved by 15% following their Game 1 win. I would now need at least +228 to back the Red Sox at a 2.5% edge compared to my series ML projection.

I currently prefer the value on Boston's World Series odds — which I would project closer to +567, or 15% implied — than listed odds around +700 (or 12.5%).

To reiterate my NLCS thoughts from Thursday: you can bet the Braves series ML to +199 (33.5% implied).

My target prices for the Astros and Dodgers would be -182 and  -160, respectively. I don't expect either of those numbers to come into range.

Red Sox vs. Astros, Game 2 (4:20 p.m. ET)

If Monday's Game 1 was any indication, this ALCS is going to be a grind. The Astros and Red Sox combined to use 15 pitchers over a four hour, seven minute span on Monday night.

And the final score, which barely squeaked over the game total, could have been much higher. These offenses went a combined 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, stranding nine baserunners on either side.

The only pitchers who might be unavailable on Saturday are Houston's Cristian Javier, who tossed 28 pitches over two innings, and Boston's Tanner Houck, who threw 18 pitches and is a candidate to start Game 4.

On Friday, I acknowledged the Astros' advantages offensively, defensively, and in the bullpen while giving the Red Sox the starting pitching advantage in this series, helping to push all of the contests closer to 50/50.

That holds true on Saturday, with Nathan Eovaldi (3.37 xERA, 3.48 xFIP, 3.360 SIERA) facing Luis Garcia (3.89 xERA, 3.93 xFIP, 3.91 SIERA):

Garcia only lasted 2 2/23 innings in Game 3 against the White Sox, and he only pitched two innings against the Rays in his postseason debut last season. Still, the 24-year-old righty is talented, and at his best he can give the Astros five or six innings of length.

Garcia offers a five-pitch mix (four-seam, cutter, slider, changeup, curveball), with his slider (sixth in MLB on a per-pitch basis) and cutter (fifth) ranking as his best offerings.

Luis Garcia, 80mph Slider…and lol Sword. ⚔️

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 8, 2021

The righty has performed much better against same-sided hitters (.233 wOBA) than left-handers (.352 wOBA), so you may see him struggle against Kyle Schwarber (157 wRC+ vs. RHP), Rafael Devers (152) and Alex Verdugo (137).

Still, Dusty Baker will likely have another quick hook on Saturday with an off day before a three-game set in Boston.

Conversely, the Red Sox will probably want at least five innings out of Eovaldi, who has been dominant in both of his postseason starts (10 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 16 K). Eovaldi generated a 32% called-strike plus whiff rate, or CSW%, against the Yankees, and a figure of 34% against Tampa Bay, generating 13 and 16 whiffs in those two starts, respectively.

Eovaldi used his curveball and slider (combined 32% usage) as his primary weapons against the Yankees, but he went with a splitter-heavy approach (27% usage) against the Rays.

Typically, Eovaldi leans on his slider (25%) against righties and uses his curveball (27%), cutter (19%) and splitter (17%) against lefties), and he'll have a complex and balanced Astros lineup to navigate.

While I showed slight value on the Red Sox moneyline compared to opening odds, there wasn't enough of an edge to make a bet.

Based on the current odds, Houston is moving closer to the value side. I would bet the Astros' moneyline at -109 or better or play their First Five Innings (F5) moneyline at -104 or better.

I set the total at 8.75 and would consider an Over 8.5 at -102. Moreover, I would have to play an F5 Under 5 (at -110). However, I doubt those numbers come into range.

And to reiterate my earlier point, the Red Sox World Series odds may offer more value than any individual bet on Game 2.

Dodgers vs. Braves, Game 1 (8:08 p.m. ET)

While I project slight value on the Braves' series moneyline, I don't view them as a value side in Game 1 with Max Fried (3.49 xERA, 3.45 xFIP, 3.76 SIERA) facing Max Scherzer (2.89 XERA, 3.24 xFIP, 2.90 SIERA).

Scherzer entered a new stratosphere after his trade to the Dodgers (11 starts, 68 1/3 IP, 1.98 ERA, 8 BB, 89 K), but Fried quietly dominated down the stretch for the NL East champions (11 starts, 74 IP, 1.46 ERA, 9 BB, 64 K), pitching to a 2.94 xFIP after the trade deadline.

Fried throws his high-spin curveball frequently (25.6% usage) to keep hitters off-balance while using his sinker (61.7% GB%) and four-seamer (58.8%) to keep the ball on the ground (51.8% GB%, fifth among SP). Atlanta started shifting more aggressively over the summer, which has undoubtedly helped his results.

Scherzer is a classic power pitcher (34.1% K%, second in MLB) with excellent command (5.2% BB%, t-3rd in MLB). He didn't make any changes to his pitch mix after moving to Los Angeles, but his first nine starts with the Dodgers (7-0, 0.78 ERA, 1.36 FIP, 79:9 strikeout to walk ratio in 58 innings) was one of the best runs of his career.

I give the Dodgers the starting pitching advantage in Game 1 and I make them the favorite in every game of this series thanks to superior position players (by roughly three-quarters of a run, including offense and defense) and a better bullpen (by almost a half-run per game):

With Corey Knebel opening ahead of (presumably) Tony Gonsolin, I would need +105 to bet the Dodgers, either for the first five innings (F5) or the full game.

Conversely, I would bet the Braves at +112 or better in either half. 

Considering my projected totals, bet the Over 8 to -112 or the F5 Over 4 up to -120. 

The Braves' series ML remains a bet at +199 or better.


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The Bets

  • Braves/Dodgers, Over 8 (bet to -112)
  • Braves/Dodgers, F5 Over 4 (bet to -120)


Boston vs. Houston

  • Boston Red Sox — Series ML (value to +228)
  • Houston Astros Moneyline (wait for -109)
  • Houston Astros, First Five Innings (wait for -104)
  • Red Sox / Astros, Over 8.5 (wait for -102)
  • Red Sox / Astros, F5 Under 5 (wait for -110)

Los Angeles vs. Atlanta

  • Atlanta Braves Moneyline (wait for +112)
  • Atlanta Braves, First Five Innings (wait for +112)
  • Atlanta Braves — Series ML (value to +199)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers Moneyline (wait for +105)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers, First Five Innings (wait for +105)

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